Wine can be just as seductive as a beautiful woman. Long legs, intoxicating perfume, and an intriguing reluctance to open up are all qualities that could be ascribed both to a femme fatal and to a great wine. Not to mention that too much of either (or both) has been the downfall of many great men.
And just like with a beautiful woman, it’s best, with wine, not to rush into things – to take the time to appreciate all of its attributes and pay homage to each one in turn. Whenever you see someone swirling their wine, inspecting the sides of their glass, and sticking their nose into it, what you’re seeing is the equivalent of foreplay for serious wine drinkers.
So, knowing just how important it is (if you don’t you probably have something dangling between your legs and need to go buy as many back issues of Cosmo as you can get your hands on and perhaps peruse the sex books section on Amazon), I’ve provided you all with a nifty little guide to the essential moves and know-how to getting the best performance from the next glass of wine you get involved with.
The move: Place two fingers on the base of the glass, one on each side of the stem and, without lifting the glass from whatever surface its resting on, start to swirl the glass in a counter clockwise motion. You want to achieve a motion that causes the wine to rise up and wash the sides of the glass. You don’t have to do this for very long – a couple seconds should do the trick.
The point: For a long time it was thought that the Swirl helped encourage a wine to “open up” by getting air into it. However, the Swirl, it turns out, is pretty inefficient towards this goal – a wine will open up better with time or a decanter than with a few spins around the wine glass.
While the Swirl doesn’t do much to open up a wine’s flavors, it does prove rather effective in amping up a wine’s scent. For wines like Pinot Noir, Viognier and Riesling (to name a few) getting a good swirl is essential and by coating the sides of the glass, the wine gets closer to one’s nose and enables more subtle scents to be detected.
The move: Holding a wine up to the light post-Swirl in order to watch the wine on the sides of the glass drip back down into itself, leaving thin trails of wine that are called “legs” or “tears”
The point: As it turns out, legs are just another long-standing and wrong supposition. A wine with “good legs” or “long legs” was once thought to be an indicator of a wine’s high quality and also to indicate the levels of sugar present in a wine. As it turns out however, legs are just a visible side effect of the evaporation of alcohol – the higher the alcohol the thicker the legs. So, I guess if you’re at a blind tasting and you only have a few tastes and you’re and looking to get hammered, this trick will come in handy. Otherwise, they’re just kinda pretty.
The move: You can tell just how serious someone is about wine by how far they stick their nose into a wine glass. To get all the benefits of the sniff, you want to swirl your wine and tilt the glass towards your nose, to get the wine as close as possible to your nostrils. Then go ahead and inhale deeply and take the wine away from your nose as you exhale.
The point: The reticent who only venture to sniff the air at the top of their wine glass are missing out on all the pleasures afforded by a good deep sniff. Half of taste is smell and sometimes half the pleasure of a glass of wine is its perfume. The nose of a wine can be just as essential to its enjoyment as its taste. Smell is an intensely personal sense and powerful in its ability to trigger memories – similarly, sometime’s a wine scent is much more revealing about its past than its taste can be.